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Mental Health

That was the week that was!

“”

Ryan ClementContributor

In association with Black Wall St. Media, I wrote a series of articles for Mental Health Awareness Week in the U.K.

(see blogs Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 (BWSM);  Mental Health Awareness (Day 1) (BWSM); Knowledge (Day 2) (BWSM);  Discrimination (Day 3) (BWSM); Provision, Criterion or Practice (Day 4) (BWSM); and Remedy (Day 5) (BWSM).

These articles were written to be both educational and to live way beyond the commemorative week itself. Speaking of ‘educational.’

Over the past two weeks my son has been preparing for and sitting his exams. These exams have been in preparation for the main GCSEs event that commences in September this year. He can’t wait!

In some ways, the chosen theme for MHAW 2023, anxiety, is connected. I am not saying that his temporary bout of anxiousness over his exams compares to some of the experiences openly shared within the articles.

But I am and was aware of a certain level of anxiousness on display that I don’t recall experiencing when I was his age – admittedly that was a long time ago and the passage of time may have been very kind to my undoubtedly faded recollection.

However, for certain, there are competing external pressures that simply were not there when I was growing up: mobile phones; Xbox; PS whatever number it is (I’ve lost count!); Fortnite; Roblox etc.

I had a Spectrum and a Gameboy, which enabled me to play tennis that you could play for many hours, if you wished (I didn’t), with a slow-moving square tennis ball that refused to respond in any way to my heavy top spins and still not score a single point unless you left it playing by itself – it was that slow! Space Invaders and Pac Man. That’s it!

These weren’t addictive enough, not even close, to prevent me from wanting me to socialise with my friends ‘in person,’ rather than the current trend of my son’s peers where the dominant form of communication between them is ‘online.’

On reflection, the limit of my technological distractions probably encouraged me to socialise in person more than be preoccupied with gadgets a few inches – ok, a few centimetres – away from my face. Remember, I am also speaking of pre-World Wide Web. Yes, I explain to my son, there was once a time!

The puzzled look on his face at this revelation is a joy to witness. Thank you, Mr. Berners-Lee.

I adopt the sound advice contained in the article,Help Your Child the Night Before Exams.’

It was the author of that article that suggested that I write this piece. Thank you.

My son’s mother is a teacher. She leads the discussion with our son on the study plan and we all seek to implement it.

I would not be telling The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth if I were to say it is as simple as that.

No, we don’t just pin the plan on his room’s notice board and leave him solely to it. Oh no! That would not work.

As the author wrote, which Mr. Mandela himself used, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision is merely passing time. But vision with action can change the world.”

Ok, it’s not quite on point but it’s so good a quote, I adopt it in part and leave it to the reader to tease out the relevant parts that apply to this article. No, we have to check that the plan is being executed and monitor progress against it.

Remember, we are competing with the said modern technological gadgets to which I have already referred. I get it!

But we know how tough it is with a reasonable level of formal education let alone without.

Trust me, even though our son is the product of parents with a number of degrees and postgraduate qualifications that cannot be counted on the fingers of one hand, hard work still needs to be done. Humans are not like racehorses. Nurture dominates Nature – Oops, have I just started an age-old debate?

Personally, I had no pressure from my parents when it came to studying. I can say the same for our son’s mother. Our parents created the environment in which to grow, create, develop and learn.

We were left to do the rest. There was also the appreciation of how hard they worked. In my book, Like Father, Like Son,

I wrote a piece about Rupert’s mother’s many jobs. This part was both easy and hard for me because I simply based that part on my own mother, whose anniversary of leaving us (in person) is soon to dawn upon us.

To some, nay, a large degree that made me hungry or hungrier to do well as a small token of a return for her hard work. Of course, we can never fully repay our parents or guardians for the many sacrifices they make for us unconditionally.

I mention this because we are potentially dealing with different dynamics in our children’s case. As for our son, he sees mother planning for class, marking, reading almost everyday!

He sees father, prepping for trial, reading, writing opinions almost everyday!  Do these alone conjure and stir up the same level of inspiration that motivated and drove both parents? Answers on a postcard, please.

Like I said, I believe there are many more external pressures on our children’s lives today with which to compete. Notwithstanding all that, however, I am a firm believer that we are all stakeholders in the formal education of ‘our’ children whether biological parents or not.

The very least, therefore, we owe to them is to prepare and help them during the many days and nights before their exams to enable them to perform to the best of their natured and nurtured abilities.

“”

Ryan ClementContributor
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